The Duchess of Sussex turned 38 yesterday, August 4, and she’s already left quite a legacy. Among the many causes she champions, Meghan Markle has been a vocal advocate for body positivity, eschewing diet culture and encouraging young women to love themselves as they are. Many of Meghan’s best body positivity moments come from the Duchess being unafraid to present herself realistically to the masses, a refreshing change of pace from celebrities who alter their photographs beyond recognition or tell half-truths about the extreme lengths they go to to achieve their physiques. Obviously, women are entitled to do whatever makes them feel good — but as long as women are taught by the media to hate their bodies, we’ll all continue to suffer for it. Meghan is taking a stand against just that.
Meghan recently had the honor of guest-editing the September issue of British Vogue, and used the opportunity to highlight 15 empowering female forces for change. Among Meghan’s picks was Jameela Jamil, who is increasingly known for her willingness to call out fellow celebrities on social media when she believes they’re abusing their platforms. At #BlogHer Health 2019 in Los Angeles, Jamil described her crusade against body-shaming and unhealthy, unrealistic standards like this: “Once you see it you can’t unsee it and that’s been the most amazing thing of the last couple of years of realizing that, ‘No, not shame on me. Shame on you for making me feel so bad about something men are rarely made to feel bad about.'”
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The Duchess clearly supports Jamil’s message — here are seven other moments when she made the same statement.
When She Published Body-Positive Poem “A Note From the Beach” in Vogue UK
For Meghan’s September Vogue issue, she included a poem called “A Note From the Beach,” written by Matt Haig. The Duchess described the piece as “a personal favorite and the best reminder during the summer season… or any season, as a matter of fact.” The piece is written from the point of view of the ocean, and skewers the idea of one body being more “beach-ready” than another. “I am a beach,” it reads. “I am entirely indifferent to your body mass index. I am not impressed that your abdominal muscles are visible to the naked eye. I am oblivious.”
When She Highlighted These Body Positivity Advocates on Instagram
Meghan and her husband Prince Harry made waves when they started their Instagram account Sussex Royals in early 2019. But it’s not exactly what you think: Rather than functioning as a glimpse at the royals’ inner lives, Meghan and Harry are using the account to highlight various charitable organizations and positive influences in media. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Meghan and Harry unfollowed all other accounts to highlight a select group, explaining their decision like this: “To pay tribute to all of the incredible work people across the globe are doing in this space, we are hoping to shine a light on several Instagram accounts that promote mental well-being, mental fitness, body positivity, self-care, and the importance of human connection – to not just hear each other, but to listen.”
Accounts highlighted in May included both actress and activist Jamil’s “I weigh” account, and Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon, who preaches self love and acceptance on Instagram as well as in her writings. Jamil’s “I weigh” campaign is encouraging women around the world to re-focus on achievements and values over metrics like weight and appearance.
When She Wanted to Be a “Realistic” Example of a Post-Baby Body
As we all know, Meghan gave birth to royal baby Archie in May of 2019 — and has since expressed that she’s not in a mad dash to shed the weight. “It’s not easy to lose the weight, but she’s happy to be a realistic example for new mothers,” a source told Us Weekly in July. While all new moms face unfair pressure from the outside world to “drop the baby weight,” Meghan’s involvement with the royal family means she’s thrust into the spotlight almost immediately after giving birth. Given that, her refusal to fold to the idea that she should look as though her pregnancy never happened is all the more admirable.
When She *Was* a Realistic Example at the Lion King Premiere
Meghan looks like a woman who gave birth two months ago, and not only embraces her post pregnancy body, but also loves it too. ❤#MeghanAndHarry #MeghanMarkle #lionkingpremiere pic.twitter.com/pBHWSxSLlf
— Anne Boleyn (@TudorChick1501) July 14, 2019
Obviously, Meghan stunned at the Lion King premiere, as she does everywhere. But fans were especially thrilled to see that Meghan wasn’t trying to camouflage the fact that her body looks different after giving birth, or — worse yet — avoiding public appearances altogether until she reached her previous weight. “Meghan looks like a women who gave birth two months ago, and not only embraces her post pregnancy body, but also loves it too,” one tweet read. “Meghan looks better now than she ever has and I thought that would have been impossible,” another tweet added. “That post pregnancy face, body, glow is EVERYTHING. EVERY DAMN THING!” Meghan’s not pretending nothing changed; she’s out here showing that self-love is the best look at any point of life.
When She Preached the Importance of a Balanced Diet (Like, Actually Balanced)
#MeghanMarkle is a real foodie! Here, she is with Haylie Duff sampling pickled food in Brooklyn, New York.#PrinceHarry #DukeandDuchessofSussex #teamtungsten #Sussexsquad #teamsussex pic.twitter.com/RoyLGiijXo
— Ed & My Duke & I Podcast (@EDandMyDukeandi) September 1, 2018
As it happens, Meghan’s enthusiasm for treating one’s body with love and respect goes way back. In 2012, she penned a column for Today in which she shared some of her favorite nutrition tips and tricks. She kicks off the post by making it clear that food can nourish you in more ways than one: “With long shooting hours for season two of USA’s Suits, it’s important to balance the decadent treats that make my heart go pitter pat, and the nourishment that fuels my body,” the actress wrote. Meghan is fulfilled by both decadent and healthy foods and knows that life isn’t about depriving yourself from things that make you happy. She also believes that food should be rewarding no matter what category it falls into: “My favorite foods run the gamut from healthy to indulgent,” she writes. “But rest assured, they are always delicious.” We’re all for not treating food like the enemy — life is way too short!
When She Shot Down the Idea That Exercise is About How You Look
— Meghan Maven (@MeghanMaven) October 9, 2018
It’s no secret that Meghan adores her workout routine (yoga is her primary exercise of choice), but she’s quick to clarify that working out isn’t just for the purpose of looking a certain way. “I don’t just take care of myself for aesthetic reasons but because how I feel is dictated by what I’m eating, how much rest I’m getting and how much water I’m drinking,” the royal told Best Health back in 2015. “If I don’t have time for a long workout, I’ll grab my dog and go for a quick run. Being active is my own moving meditation.” She’s also upfront about when exercise can’t be her only priority: “I typically get picked up for work at 4:15 in the morning on a Monday,” she said. (Meghan was still shooting Suits at the time). She continued, “There isn’t much time for jogging and I would rather have that extra hour of sleep.”
When She Celebrated Accepting Yourself as Enough
Before her fairytale romance with Prince Harry, Meghan ran a blog called The Tig, on which she posted everything from new recipes to musings on life. In a 2014 entry (on her 33rd birthday), the actress had this to say: “You need to know that you’re enough. A mantra that has now engrained itself so deeply within me that not a day goes by without hearing it chime in my head. That five pounds lost won’t make you happier, that more makeup won’t make you prettier, that the now iconic saying from Jerry Maguire–’You complete me’–frankly, isn’t true. You are complete with or without a partner. You are enough just as you are.”
If you choose one message of Meghan’s to take with you this week, make it this one. We are all enough, and we all deserve to know that happiness isn’t waiting on the other side of any one of the myriad things society tells us we need (from a flawless complexion to a life partner). We’re enough! And we should celebrate that fact every day.